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The New Canvas
No one. There was no one except him on that cold place. The sun was there. The sky, the buildings, him. But Kisa-san was not. Not anymore.
Yukina was determined to find Kisa-san. He had been a bastard. He had been a jerk. How could he forget such an important thing. And all he did the past thousand years was torment his lover. Funny how he only get to understand the value of someone when that someone wasn't there anymore. Funny to get all the important memories back at the last moment. Everything was just as messed up as his emotions in his chest.
The man ran back to the flat. Hopelessly praying that Kisa-san was there.
When he opened the door, it was as dark as he left it. Not a sign of life could be seen in it. Gazing at it with a pained expression, he felt his throat constrict, readying to utter the one name of the person who chose to disappeare to free them both.
"I don't want this..." Yukina muttered. "Kisa-san? Kisa-san?!"
He called out the name while opening all the doors in that flat. Every cabinet, every corner where there was a possibility of hiding. But there was no one.
Slowly, as if he was a melting candle, his legs gave out and found himself seated on the sofa. He felt something wet. Something hot on his face. And at the same time felt a searing pain inside his chest. "We're not done yet...are we?"
Staring into the darkness, Kisa's scent lingered in the atmosphere. Where he walked, Yukina could see. Where Kisa used to stand while answering the phone, he could see him there. He could see him practically everywhere. But when he reached out his hand to touch the man, his hand passes through and feels nothing but emptiness.
His eyes took a sharp glance at the cordless phone beside him. He just looked at it. He didn't want to answer it. Why would he answer a call when he knew not to explain where the owner of that flat was. Yukina just buried his face on his palms. Waiting for the ringing to die down. But it did not.
Cursing, Yukina grabbed the phone and just waited for the other line to speak.
And what he heard crushed him even more. Left him confused more than ever.
"What the heck Yukina? Why are you not answering the phone? We're in the middle of the cycle, just to remind you!"
Yukina had to stare at the phone. He didn't know what was going on.
Still off the loop, Yukina inhaled and talked to another human being other than Kisa for the second time. "Who's this?" come his husky voice.
The other line chuckled, but clearly sounded that he wasn't happy. "Your fucking Chief-Editor! Who else?!" The other line spat.
"Yukina look. I know you're shocked about one of your authors being in a car accident. But let me just remind you that you've got other responsibilities here in Marukawa. So get your ass right here this instant!"
The phone on his huge, soft hand slid and fell on the floor. His legs refused to get up, but he forced himself. Slowly, as if in denial, Yukina stood and walked towards the high school graduation of Kisa-san on the wall. His index finger traced the frame. Kisa-san's smiling face was not there anymore. It was his young face instead in that picture grinning.
Air had been knocked out in his chest. He just stared at it like it was the most stupid thing in the world. He couldn't take it. He wouldn't believe it. He wouldn't accept it.
He ran out the flat huffing. Sweat forming on his forehead, an old woman passed him.
"Oh...Yukina-san, aren't you late for work?"
"Huh?" Yukina looked at the woman with a funny expression. He didn't know this old woman. He didn't work in a manga editing company. Why?
Sensing that Yukina wasn't in a good mood, the woman walked away with an understanding face and disappeared into one of the rooms. On the other hand, Yukina who didn't have the least bit of understanding at what was going stood frozen at the front of Kisa-san's flat.
His shaking fingers touched the door plate. The name that was once "Kisa Shouta" was saying "Yukina Kou" instead.
And the realization hit him. He had taken over the life of Kisa Shouta. Kisa Shouta's very existence had been erased.
ID's, documents, papers. Everything that was once in the name of Kisa Shouta was now replaced by Yukina Kou. Even the people Kisa-san interacted before was looking at Yukina as if they were all friends. It seemed like in their memories, it had been Yukina Kou all along.
Yukina sat lifelessly around him. Papers, heaps and heaps of them before him. The place was a huge dump and yet, Kisa-san's chair was covered with a pink cover. His laptop's background, a refreshing picture of a huge tree. Wrappers of Kisa-san's favorite mochi hidden at the empty spaces between his table and the brunette's table Yukina had known to be Onodera Ritsu. Empty pens scattered inside the crazy drawer. And each time Yukina looks at them, he felt like he'd die.
He could picture the darkhaired man making faces as he was about to be caught in the middle of some work. How the man must have buried his face on doing reports. How Kisa must have sulked when the mangas he was editing didn't do so well. The more Yukina imagined, the more he missed Kisa.
And the more he missed him, the more Yukina felt lost.
A month has passed after Kisa Shouta disappeared from everything. Yukina who had no means to support himself, decided then to just go with the flow. Act like a manga editor. Act like a normal salary man. But each passing, second, minute and day was nothing but a chore. He couldn't go on like this forever. Where was Kisa-san? What happened to him? But his listless questions were left unanswered.
"Oi, Yukina-san," Onodera Ritsu muttered, waiving a white paper in front of the princely face. Ritsu seemed to have no problem facing the princely face unlike some who stammered and blushed everytime they have to look at Yukina. "Here's a fax for you. You're spacing out again."
Yukina took it with disinterest. Tossed it on the table and sighed as he watched the energetic brunette do his work. Yukina started wondering if Kisa-san had been close friends with this guy. Hurt for no reason, Yukina rested his head against the surface of Kisa-san's once table.
"Onodera, do you know a guy with a name Kisa Shouta?"
The brunette looked up from his work and eyed the lethargic guy. As if in deep thought, Ritsu closed his eyes. Yukina could hear a soft "mmmm" from the man beside him. Then with a serious expression, Ritsu looked at Yukina with his brows meeting in a small frown.
"Sorry, I don't know anyone named Kisa Shouta," Ritsu answered apologetically. "Oh but...it feels really familiar you know? It rings a bell, but when I feel like I am about to remember, it disappeares."
Lifeless, bored, guilty and lonely. Yukina Kou was in the pits of hell, that was how he would describe his situation. What's the purpose of me being here...if you're not here..."
Another cold and dry day was soon to end. The bustle of people going home from work was crazy. The waves of the sea of people was a depressing sight. Yukina started to wonder how his Kisa-san ever got used to this life. It felt like he was watching himself be tossed to every side. The world was a bland gray when you know your loved one wasn't there anymore. There wasn't even a corspe to mourn at.
Walking in the streets Kisa-san used to take, Yukina continued moving forwards with the red scarf wrapped around his neck and almost hiding half of his face. It was really cold. Or it must have been his inside surfacing.
He stopped and looked at the park he passed. It was where he confessed to Kisa. His fake confession where Kisa agreed to go out with him. Thinking back, Yukina thought that he wasted so much, so much opportunity to show who he really was. He wouldn't justify himself by saying he didn't know what he was doing. He knew it. It was just him who allowed himself to be eaten by anger, forgetting the important details of their set-up. If he hadn't forgotten, perhaps the two of them were still happy despite the killing and being reborn cycle. Too late to regret now. He was alone.
He hadn't notice it before. But when he stopped again to fix the scarf that was about to fall off his face, he noticed at the other side of the street an art shop. His feet moved on its own. Before he realized it, he was already inside the small place. It smelled of oil, wood and something rustic. How long has it been since he smelled these stuff neatly arranged before him? During his time, there was not so much color to choose from. But now, they were blinding him.
The empty canvases on the side of different sizes caught his attention. A clean canvas, compared to the dirty, yellowish canvas he used to stay in years after years afters years. Lifting a cold finger, he traced the rough surface. At the other side of the store, a set of brushes could be seen. Smallest to the largest. Finest to the thickest. He took one and brushed the tip to his knuckles. It was made from a highquality horse hair. The way it would touch to the canvas will surely be soft and smooth.
Suddenly Yukina as if stabbed whirled around the room. How long was it since the last time he painted? The last painting he ever did was already torn in half. The one empty of image, the one was already ashes.
"Ah! Welcome to our small store!" a young girl greeted. "Oh mister, you're lucky today, we have a sales promo. So anything you purchase, the amount will be cut in half."
The girl walked towards Yukina and looked at the man's hand as if scrutinizing it.
"You have a good grip Sir! I assume you're a real painter?"
Yukina forced a smile on his lips. "I was...a long time ago."
"Eh? No matter how long the last time you painted, you're still a painter. It's in the heart. That's what our sensei in art told us."
Yukina turned his gaze at the brushes. "I don't think I can ever paint anymore."
With her intent blue eyes, the girl looked at the brushes too. As if they were long time friends, they just allowed the silence float between them.
"You lost your inspiration?"
A bit surprised at the girl's keenness, Yukina weighed his words. "You could say that, I guess."
Slender fingers reached to one of the brushed and swayed it in the air as if painting in an imaginary canvas in front of her. "You know Sir, ever thought why 'art' sounds close to 'heart'?"
Yukina glanced down at the braided black hair.
"Because inspirations come from the heart, don't you agree? Everything starts from it. Heat for loving, tear for hurting, ear for listening, if you look at it deeper, the heart has it all and does that."
The guy smiled to himself.
"And you know why 'heart' is spelled as that?" the girl winked. "'He symbolizes man, a human being. Art, is basically what we do to express our feelings. As long as your heart is beating, art will never stop. You will never run out of inspiration."
Yukina just listened.
"If your inspiration disappeared, you can always look back here," she pointed the brush to her chest. "That's why it's 'inspiration'. It comes from the inside. Other wise it's outspiration right?"
This time Yukina smiled. The girl who seemed to be a college freshman spoke with liveliness and with conviction. She will go along way. The guy thought.
Yukina went out the shop with a canvas and paint and oil in a paper bag.
The girl received a pat on her shoulder from her father who owned the shop. "Dear God, your marketing skills is really good for business. Heart and art and inspiration..." the man praised grinning.
"Shut-up dad, he looked like he's about to cry while looking at the brushes. Everything I told him was just what I think about art, but if that cheered him up a little then my 'marketing' skills did really help."
It was the middle of the night. Yukina, sitting on a low stool. The empty canvas glaring at him. Glaring at it for hours.
He had been sitting in front of it for a long time. Everytime he tried to lift the brush against the canvas, his hand would just stop midair.
"What do you really want to do?"
Sighing, Yukina looked around the room. And as he came to realize that every picture that had Kisa-san's face was replaced by his, Yukina stared again at the canvas. He realized now that he was even already starting to forget the face of the man he fell in love with.
The reason he can't paint. The reason was...Kisa-san's image in his mind was already slowly being erased by some force Yukina didn't have any control of.
"No. Don't take away the last thing I have of him..." his fingers shook together with the brush. Kisa's face was a blur. If he didn't hurry up, Kisa-san will be gone. Completely gone in his mind. In his memory.
In reality, Yukina Kou should have ceased to exist when he died thousands of years ago. But the curse prevented it. And since Kisa broke the curse and Yukina took over, it was only natural that the living world should have never known Kisa. Including Yukina Kou.
The night was quiet. The night was cold. And there in the middle of the room was Yukina, tears falling from his red eyes. Painting the image of Kisa-san that he could still grasp.
"Wow! What's this Yukina-san?" Ritsu asked his colleague as he looked at one painting hanging on the wall.
"Oi, Onodera, don't be too nosy. Sit here," Takano Masamune ordered.
It was New Year's and the Emerald team decided to have a drinking spree. However since they didn't want to be caught up with the crowded pubs, crowded trains, crowded streets, they all decided to do it in the nearest place from Marukawa. Yukina Kou's.
The princely guy sat on the floor, starting to open the packs of junk food they bought from a convenience store. He then looked at the painting the brunette was pertaining to.
Hatori and Mino looked at it too.
"That painting looks so sad Yukina.. Why put on display something as depressing as that?" Mino asked then took a sip of his beer.
Yukina smiled at the painting. "Don't be rude Mino-san. It was I who painted that after all."
"Eh?" Ritsu exclaimed. "Really? We've been in Marukawa for so long, how come we don't know you know how to paint?"
"I don't know either," Yukina shrugged.
"Yukina, why is it that the person's back was facing us. Why not his face? I'm just curious," the brunette continued. "Is he someone you know? A friend?"
The man chewed on some crunchy chips while looking at the painting. "I don't know. I can't remember whose back is that. Honestly, I don't even know who's that. I think I know when I was painting it. But...I don't know..it already slipped in my brain. I can't seem to remember."
"Ha? Didn't you put a note at the back? Are you really the one who painted that?" Mino-san queried.
Annoyed, Yukina frowned. "I did paint that, my signature is even at the back. Aside from that there was a 'KS'. But I have no idea what 'KS' is."
"His initials maybe?" Takano joined.
"Maybe..." Yukina trailed off.
When everyone was already drunk and wasted and sprawled on the living room on the futons Yukina lent them, he remained awake. The dim light glinting in his eyes, he stared at the painting that he painted a year ago. He couldn't understand himself why each time he tried to remember who that guy in the painting was, it was as if there was a barrier allowing him to remember. So he left it at that. Deep inside him though, he had tried a million times imagining how the black hair, frail back and small frame would look in front. The guy was standing with his head raised up at a cherry blossom in bloom. Pink petals around him. Wearing a white polo shirt and black trousers. And the guy was holding a piece of cloth? Paper? He couldn't make it out.
Curious. Yukina, each time he looks at the painting, he feels a great sense of loss. But he couldn't bring himself to take the painting off the wall either. So it has been there for a year now.
"KS..." he whispered into the New Year's night. "Who are you?"
chapter end notes:
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